The Seattle Times editorial board has come out with a very strong statement in support of ending marijuana prohibition. Their editorial from yesterday begins:
MARIJUANA should be legalized, regulated and taxed. The push to repeal federal prohibition should come from the states, and it should begin with the state of Washington.
This argument was made loud and clear by numerous folks in Olympia last week. State representatives, prosecutors, police officers, judges, doctors, and ordinary Washingtonians testified why it’s urgent for us to start treating marijuana the way we treat alcohol and pass HB1550. The Seattle Times reiterated those main points: the current policy wastes enormous public funds at a time when we can least afford it, it can unnecessarily derail opportunities for young people, it erodes our civil liberties, it fosters distrust of law enforcement, and it greatly benefits Washington’s gangs. The fact that it still continues is an extraordinary example of how propaganda and fear has been used to paper over what has been one of the biggest policy failures in America over the past 100 years.
It’s not clear what will happen to HB1550, as notorious drug warrior Christopher Hurst (D-31) remains in charge of the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee, but his extremism in pursuit of this disastrous policy is becoming more and more isolated in the general public. In the most recent survey conducted by the Economist, 58% of Americans support the idea of treating marijuana the way we treat alcohol. Only 23% disagreed. These numbers represent a sea change in public opinion on this topic, and one that too many of our politicians have not kept up with.
If the legislature doesn’t do it this session, the voters will do it on their own. Sensible Washington is gearing up for another shot at the ballot in 2011, and bigger drug policy organizations have their eye on a 2012 run. The choice that politicians have to make right now is not about whether marijuana should be treated the same as alcohol. The public has already made up their mind about that and every year that goes by just sees more and more young voters who support it and fewer and fewer older voters who don’t. The choice that politicians have to make is whether to set up legalized markets the way they want them to function, or to deal with legalized markets created by voter initiative.